Train Like A Pro: A Conversation Between Tennis Stars Chris Evert and Coco Gauff

Let’s talk more specifically about training. Coco, what’s your main focus—aerobics, strength, on-court drills and practice? Mental, psychological training, relaxation and wellness? Or all of the above?

Gauff: Pretty much all of that. The biggest thing that I take pride in is being fit—making sure that my body isn’t failing me on the court. Outside of that, it really depends on what’s going on. The week before Slams are a lot more relaxed than when you have a period of just training—that’s why I enjoy playing tournaments, because the matches should be easier, at least physically, than the practice. That’s the mindset that I like to have: Physically, I like my practices to be harder, so when I go on court, everything seems easy.

Also, your emotions are heightened when you’re playing matches, so your average couple of games or average couple of points just feel a lot more physically exhausting than what you could do with that in practice, just because of the stress levels.

On the mental side, I have a therapist, and that’s something that helps me a lot—just coping with travel, life, tennis, all of that. I try to approach each tournament with a fresh mindset, and try my best to focus on my expectations and myself, and not so much the noise around me. When my mind is clear, I’m able to play a lot clearer as well. But I don’t always talk about tennis—there’s some other things, too.

There’s also wellness: Every couple of days I like to just take a day for myself, whether that’s getting my nails done, my hair done, or going to the beach—just things that I like to do outside of tennis. I can be caught up and wrapped into the game, because I do love it—but at the same time, it’s important to take steps away.

Is there a certain part of your training that, for you, is the hardest? Is there something that you dread, like most mortals?

Gauff: Definitely the track—because you have to run a lot, and you’re tired, and you have to push. Also, drills on the court. I like to change things up—I like to do rallies or play points, something a little bit more unpredictable, and sometimes drills can be repetitive—but they’re very important, and tennis is a sport where you have to do things over and over and over again.